The Trauma Centre Project

Ash-Sham CARE plans three Therapy & Trauma centers inside Syria

Women are double victims of armed conflicts since they are also subjected to rapes and sexual abuse, which also have been used as weapons of war in Syria. Ash Sham CARE therefore supports the medical and psycho-social treatment of Women and Children who have suffered sexual violence. Sexualised violence is not only a particularly perverse form of warfare, but also a shocking, traumatising day-to-day experience for women and children.

Systematic sexual assault

Children have witnessed massacres, mothers seen their sons killed, families watched their homes looted and burned. But there is one act of violence that refugees from the Syrian crisis will not discuss. The conflict has been distinguished by a brutal targeting of women. The United Nations has gathered evidence of systematic sexual assault of women and girls by combatants in Syria, and describes rape as "a weapon of war". Outside the conflict, in sprawling camps and overloaded host communities, aid workers report a soaring number of incidents of domestic violence and rampant sexual exploitation (Sources: United Nations). But this is a deeply conservative society. The endemic violence suffered by Syrian women and girls is hidden under a cultural blanket of fear, shame and silence that even international aid workers are loath to lift.

Stigmatized for life

Women, who have been raped, wouldn't talk openly about it because they would be stigmatized for their entire life, doctors say. The phenomenon is massively under-reported. Only after a long process of building trust through one-on-one counseling sessions might a rape survivor talk, experts say. In a reversal of the cultural norm, many refugee families are headed by women. Fathers and husbands have either been killed or gone to fight. They live in towns, where they quickly disappear beyond the reach of aid workers and their resources. With no means to support themselves, they are vulnerable. A witness told the media shortly: "I saw maybe 100 women stripped naked and used as human shields, forced to walk on all sides of the army tanks during the fighting. When their tanks rolled back, the women disappeared with them." ("The Guardian").

A double trauma

Women and children belong to the most vulnerable groups when it comes to war. They experience severe forms of violence, including sexualized violence. The women and girls then often experience a double trauma, firstly dealing with the physical and psychological consequences of the rape and then being excluded by their families and communities, who consider them responsible for the incident. In many cultures, the honour of the family and of the husband is closely connected to the supposed integrity of the wife's sexuality, so raped women are judged to have brought shame over their husbands and/or families (rather than recognizing the guilt of the perpetrator). They are then thrown out of their families and as a result, these women and girls have to care for themselves and their children without the usual support from their families and communities.

Creation of Safe havens

Ash-Sham CARE wants to enter into collaborations to work in close co-operation with experienced organizations to give primary medical care, gynecological treatment and psychological counseling in women's therapy & trauma centers. Ash-Sham CARE also wants to finance the creation of "safe havens" for women in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and soon as possible also in Syria, allowing them to recover and regain new strength for their future. For Ash-Sham CARE women's full participation in conflict resolution and peace building is one of the most important topics. For this reason Ash-Sham CARE want's to support the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Sexual Violence in Conflict, the European Union as well as the Governments of Turkey, Lebanon and Turkey and any other Organization who is willing to join a corresponding consortium for the victims of sexual violence in Syria.

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